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the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
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Revelation 19

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

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Verses 1-21

Revelation 19:1 . I heard a great voice of much people, songs in full choir, the songs of heaven and of earth, for both are now made one, saying, Alleluia, written as John expressed it in Greek. Praise ye the Lord, Jehovah, the first and the last. This is the grand overture to the song opened in Revelation 4:9-11, and now resumed in the sublime of triumph.

Revelation 19:2 . True and righteous are his judgments. The song of the seraphim, in the sixth of Isaiah, was excited by a view of the infinite purity of the divine nature; and here the argument of the song is founded on the equity of God in the long reign of antichristian tyranny, bloodshed immeasurable, and crimes without number.

Revelation 19:3-4 . Alleluia: and her smoke rose up for ever and ever. What, and are the fires that burned the martyrs rekindled! What, must the beast, the whore, and the false teacher now take their turn! The martyrs have escaped; their feet stand on the sea of glass, the pavement which reflects the glory of the throne, praising God with harp and voice. But how will the beast escape? Like the Persian princes, who threw Daniel to the lions, they must themselves go to the lions. Amen: alleluia.

Revelation 19:5-6 . A voice came out of the throne, the place where all ancient oracles were delivered, saying, Praise our God. Now, on seeing the smoke, and heaven commanding the full swell of song, like responsive thunders it issued from the ransomed armies of the Lord.

And here we ask, in the calm of reflection, what else can be the issue between the bride of Christ and the whore of Babylon? Making at the same time a just distinction between pious catholics individually, and the ruling tyranny of Rome. The papacy itself is still the same, both at home and abroad. In the year 1824, many of our shipping being at Rio Janeiro, the sailors had worship on board their ships, but some on shore, being desirous to join them, petitioned the imperial ministers to have a place of worship in the city. The ministers wrote to the bishop in a favourable manner, adding, that in all places the protestants allowed the catholics the free exercise of their religion. The answer was, an absolute negative, with this rejoinder, “That if the false religion tolerated the true, it is no reason why the true religion should tolerate the false.”

Revelation 19:8 . To her it was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints. The church is without spot or wrinkle, being washed and sanctified by water and the word. How would a jew understand these words? He would go to the prophets, and read, Let the skies pour down righteousness Oh that thou hadst hearkened to my voice: then thy righteousness had been as the waves of the sea, and thy children as numerous as the sand upon the shore. Isaiah 45:8; Isaiah 48:17. All these are covenant blessings, the gifts of God. In the Lord we have righteousness and strength; yea, everlasting righteousness.

Revelation 19:10 . I fell at his feet to worship him, assuredly to pay him divine honours, else why rebuke him by a broken phrase, ωρα μη , vide ne, see not. Else why was not Abraham rebuked for civil homage? Genesis 18:2. The angel that announced the fall of Babylon, had enlightened the earth with his glory. John might therefore be overpowered and dazzled with the glory. Worship God. How then, oh papists, would he have rebuked you, on your knees at every shrine of the martyrs, and before every crucifix!

The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. The world say, that the best calculators are the best prophets. On this head, calculation is left for ages in the rear. All the leading events of our Saviour’s life, death, resurrection, and ascension, are foretold from four hundred to four thousand years before they occurred; how the jews would reject him, and how the gentiles would gather around the stem of Jesse. And what was never, in the eye of reason, likely to happen to a person so illustrious, about forty striking and tragic circumstances of his passion are painted with the exactitude of historic subjects. The prophets therefore must have been inspired by him, to whom futurity is without a veil.

Revelation 19:11-16 . I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. Kings and commanders in chief have in this way been distinguished from time immemorial. He that sat upon the horse was called faithful and true: Revelation 3:14. He had eyes as a flame of fire, searching the dark devices of his foes. On his head were many crowns, because by him all kings reign, and princes decree judgment. He had a name, the incommunicable name, JEHOVAH, so often ascribed to him, a name above every name. A name which no man knew but he himself, who knows the Father. He was clothed, as Isaiah had seen him, with a vesture dipped in blood, baptized, bespattered, like the heroes who fight in the throng of battle. Isaiah 63:1-6. And his name is called the Word of God. Psalms 33:6. Jonah 3:1. This is a name, דבר Devar, of constant occurrence in the targums of the elder rabbins for the Messiah; it occurs perhaps fifty times in their paraphrases and notes on the chronicles, for those old men were in effect christians. The authentic records of the temple gave the apostle John the highest support in the use of this sublime name, Christ, the Word, the Wisdom, the Power of God.

Out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, with two edges, which cuts both ways, dividing between the soul and spirit, the joints and the marrow. He had a name written on his thigh, on the scabbard of his sword, King of kings, and Lord of lords. All judgment is committed unto him, forasmuch as he is the Son of man.

Revelation 19:17-19 . I saw an angel standing in the sun, and shining like him in splendour. And he cried, come, eat the flesh of all men, small and great, the prince and the peasant, the rich and the poor. What battle was this to be? Not an indecisive action, seeing the King himself commanded in person; and the Lord being a man of war, all the armies of heaven are in his train. It must therefore be a battle. Ah, no; not a battle, but a slaughter without resistance, a carnage, after the capture of the beast, which pursued the remnant. It was a war against the kings and the captains, who glutted their concupiscence with the spoliations of the apostate church. Therefore, in the most sober deliberations of my mind, it is a war of God’s fierce anger against the infidel world, as defined in the comments on the Gog and Magog of Ezekiel. It is a war against “Mesheck and Tubal,” the Turks of Asia; against the “Hamonah,” the children of Ham; and “the isles of the gentiles,” Chittim, the Greeks, or the infidels of France and other nations. It is a war of God’s wrath, when he will tread the winepress, as Isaiah has said. But who may abide the day of his coming?


The apostate and harlot church being put down, the true church, the spouse of Christ, shines forth with peculiar lustre. All heaven celebrates the victory in the highest strains of gratitude; and what is peculiarly worthy of celestial song, the justice of God in his judgments, is most celebrated. This song, as in the fifth chapter, is threefold. The saints in glory have the honour to open with loud voices the triumphs of God and the Lamb. The four cherubims make the response: the church below, as the voice of many waters, close the chorus, and reëcho back the hallelujahs of the skies. Their joy is full, because the marriage of the Lamb is come, when the church shall be adorned with righteousness, and with the glory of her Lord.

The next scene is inconceivably awful and sublime. It is the destruction of antichrist, and all his host; and there is no text which speaks of the enlargement of Christ’s kingdom, but it either expresses or implies the destruction of its enemies. And what, oh Rome, is this the end of thy tyranny? What, oh false prophets and teachers, is burning the end of your pontificate? Are you yourselves deceived at last, after deceiving the people? Must you who have pardoned ages of crimes, and shed rivers of blood, find your own sins unpurged and unpardoned at last. And you, oh kings, the anointed ministers of God, who have lent your arms to the beast, instead of trusting in Him by whom you reign, must you who have been partakers of her sins, be partakers also of her punishments?

Worst of all, thou, oh infidel, the student of nature, who could not see the God of nature; thy passions, thy evil concupiscence, have blinded thy intellect. All nature is full of the Eternal Mind, yet thou canst see no one but thyself. Yet once more wipe thine eyes, and look up. Yonder he comes on the white horse, and all the armies of heaven follow, as the ministers of justice, for a long-insulted Deity.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Revelation 19". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/revelation-19.html. 1835.
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